Release Date: November 20, 2015
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig (screenplay), Danny Strong (screenplay), Suzanne Collins
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer, Evan Ross, Elden Henson, Wes Chatham, Eugenie Bondurant, Sarita Choudhury, Stef Dawson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 137 minutes
Production Company: Color Force, Lionsgate, Studio Babelsberg (co-production)
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
When director Francis Lawrence hit the scene, taking over The Hunger Games franchise, he blew me away. While already loving the first film in the series, he gave us more of the same, but cranked it up to a whole other level. It was better than the first film across the board. So when I found out he was attached to Mockingjay, I had every reason to be excited. News then dropped of a split in storytelling between the last book, and my fears started to rise. In most cases when this is done, the studio wins making bank, but the stories lose tremendously. Unfortunately that ideal came true, with Mockingjay part one being a disappointment. With the third chapter in the series being nothing more than a set-up for the final confrontation, I knew the last installment would succeed. In some ways it did, but in the end it wasn’t the movie I wanted to see. The visuals were great, and you want to cheer for the characters, but it’s stretched far too thin to enjoy. Now I can only wonder what the film could’ve been if monetary gain wasn’t the main focus.
As expected, the film picked up where the last left off. Questions are answered, loose ends are tied, and you’re ready for the remaining adventure. Everything is going to plan as the troops rally together to take on the capital. You’re itching for action that soon arises, but it doesn’t happen in the forefront. It’s hinted in the background, and teases you for more. It’s a clever device that promises you the main course is soon to come. Though as time goes on, it never shows up. Initially this was acceptable, but after the first thirty minutes that’s all the film is. Sprinkles of greatness that’s too brief take in and appreciate. The action is over before it starts, and you’re back to square one frustrated on high. Giving credit where it’s due, the series always comes up with clever unique deaths, but the build up to get there seems shallow. While I’m witnessing creative booby traps, that took a mastermind to conjure, you can’t help but wonder what else is around the corner. This is because the film is AGAIN split into two sections. One group of characters is taking up the screen time, doing nothing but sneaking around, while the more interesting party of survivors are taking in all the fun.
Between the action and the decisions with the characters, I don’t know what’s more disappointing. I’m all about saving lives and humanity, but having a cell in the group you can’t trust, with so much stakes on the line is so ridiculously stupid. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) gets worse with each film. With the events from the last there is still nothing here that’s redeemable about his character. If you’ve you seen the last film, it makes perfect sense, but the writing this time could’ve easily taken a turn, giving his character a notable end. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) feels like she’s sleep the entire time, and doesn’t want to complete the mission. I understand she’s upset wanting to end this nightmare she’s unfortunately a part of, but she should’ve used that anger on the battle field. Don’t let me get started with President Snow (Donald Sutherland), because this was a complete abandonment of what we loved about his character. I say love due to him being the ultimate villain. He’s evil to the core with no remorse, and would laugh at a baby dying. He’s one of the most cold-hearted antagonist on screen I’ve seen in a while. He’s wise, intelligent, and always seemed to have something up his sleeve. For years I couldn’t wait to see his demise, as he died slowly by the tributes hands. In this last chapter he was the poster child for wimps, and gave up with no fight. Previously he was the definition of cocky, but now he bends over, and takes it all in. It was such a waste, that I wanted to vomit, on the toothbrush, to whomever approved this incarnation.
The most positive aspect of the film was the twist towards the end. As some people are consumed with power, it was a nice example of a real world theme. It forced one character to make a harsh decision on center stage, and I can’t do anything but respect it. It wasn’t what I signed up to see, but still made sense for the story that’s trying to be told. It did try extremely hard, but still failed. For so much talk on taking down the capitol, our main group of characters were in pretend mode instead of actually snapping necks. When that action was present it was lovely, but still only an appetizer that’s split among two tables. There was so much I wanted to see, but didn’t even get a glimpse of. Throughout the franchise, arrogant citizens of the capitol lived high on their white horses. They looked down on the others that were born into tragedy. Yet in the end we didn’t see them panic, suffer, or meet they’re deserving abysmal end. They just got away with their hatred, which was swept under the rug.
This isn’t the worst ending to a franchise, but certainly is the most disappointing. The film had every reason to give us what the average movie goer would want, but instead put majority to sleep. At least it felt that way, because for a two hour and seventeen minute film, barely anything happened. I wanted to see some carnage that was all over the first film, but absent in the last. I wanted to see destruction that was all over the land, but when it took place, the camera was elsewhere. I wanted to see a number of things, but the film just didn’t deliver. It just goes to show that it’s not wise to split a book into two, then fill in the gaps with unwanted themes. While also leading you on to a finale, that’s as great as a trip to the bathroom.